Potsdamer Platz

If you look up the term “Cyberpunk” in Wikipedia, you’ll find an image of Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz. Cyberpunk is as a genre of literature and films, and is usually set in a near future dystopia, with “high-tech and low life”, artificial intelligence and corporations running amok, where nothing is as it seems to our eyes. All in all an extremely in-human world. Bladerunner is a prime example of the genre.

The Wikipedia image caption states that Sony Center has aesthetic qualities resembling of the genre, but on the other hand, one could extend the analogy to cyberpunk even further.

Potsdamer Platz used to be the absolute city centre in Berlin in the twenties, it was the largest traffic junction on the continent, a huge number of vehicles and trams passed by every day and this also led to the erection of Europe’s first traffic light. Since a bunch of Third Reich official buildings were located in the vicinity, the area was reduced to rubble in the allied bombing raids. During the cold war, the area was part of No man’s land, and remained barren. When the wall came down, officials in Berlin were suddenly faced with the fact that their once city center was still rubble.

As the reunited Berlin was a city with aspirations, everything was done to make sure the area was returned to its vibrant pre-war self as quickly as possible. In order to achieve this, the large area was reduced to three sites, each to be sold off to just one corporation. Naturally, the prospect of cheap inner city land made many a corporation start drooling, and in the end the two largest slices were snatched up by Sony and Daimler-Benz and they set forth to develop the area at neck-breaking speed. The objective was to create the resemblance of urbanity, shops, cafes, theaters and so on on ground level. An urban area containing pedestrian streets, lined with trees, fountains and the usual urban paraphernalia. The only difference is that it is almost entirely privately owned and managed. A meticulously controlled private city. Quite cyberpunk, isn’t it?


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